10 Tasting Notes
Baked green apples and poached pears – need I say more?
In all seriousness, this is a solid and interesting GABA oolong. Sweet pome fruits dominate at the beginning and on the lingering finish, while in between they give way to a tartness (somewhere between citrus and pomegranate?). The sweet potato mentioned in the description definitely shows up in later infusions.
Flavors: Apple, Pear, Pomegranate, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Tart, Tree Fruit
I’ve been meaning to type this one up for a while and have just now gotten around to it.
I like this tea as a late afternoon daily drinker. Is it particularly complex or unusual? No. Does it get the job done? Absolutely. This was among the first Vietnamese teas I’ve tried, and I’m glad it was. It’s a solid hit of dried fruit and a great partner for some light meditation.
This is a nicely ball-rolled tea, though visibly less tight than most Taiwanese oolongs. Although I rinsed fairly thoroughly, I had some fannings come through in most steeps. The color of leaves is mostly a uniform date-brown, though the odd less-oxidized leaf is visible in the mix.
The aroma of the dry leaves is heavily dominated by a cocktail of dried fruit. In descending order of predominance, I picked up dates, apricots, bananas, and a hint of raisins. The honeyed sweetness and slight tartness are underpinned by the smell of date syrup.
The wet leaves preserve the base of dried fruit, mixing its individual components into a strong, candy-like fruit leather aroma. A very bright woodiness (perhaps akin to cork?) was also present in the scent of the wet leaves. From the third infusion on, I also detected a hint of pink peppercorns.
The leaves produce a clear, honey-light-brown liquor.
The flavor of the tea, like the aforementioned aromas, is dominated by a deep sweetness accompanied by a mild and enjoyable tartness, with dates and dried apricots at the forefront.
A particularly long final steep (#7, ~3 min) revealed an interesting digestive biscuit note.
This tea brings about a pleasant sensation in the mouth, with very mild astringency on the sides of the mouth quickly giving way to light juiciness and a sweet, clean finish.
Flavors: Apple, Apricot, banana, Candy, Cookie, Dates, Dried Fruit, Green Wood, Honey, Peppercorn, Raisins, Stewed Fruits
I’ve really been enjoying this tea (2021 harvest) as an afternoon pick-me-up for the past couple of weeks. Spicy, chocolatey, reminiscent of baked goods and mildly fruity, with a strong yet balanced base of malt. It’s a pleasure to watch the tightly rolled buds unfurl further from infusion to infusion, with the liquor easily keeping its golden-auburn color and punchy flavors to their full extent for six or more infusions. Full-bodied and pleasant texture with a sweet, enjoyable finish that hardly wavers as infusions progress.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Caramel, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cloves, Dates, Malt, Molasses, Saffron, Spices, Toffee, Vanilla
As promised, I came back to this tea in order to examine it in greater detail after being very impressed by it during an impromptu evening session.
I brewed this tea gong-fu style, this time using a clay kyusu.
Upon initial examination, the dry leaves appeared very large, and they were twisted and rather delicate (unfortunately quite a few were broken, presumably during shipping; hence the choice to brew in a kyusu this time around). The colors visible ranged from white through green to nori-black.
Even when dry, the leaves are super aromatic. Just putting them into the kyusu, I was hit by a wave of enticing scents, predominated by seaweed and sweet corn-flavored battered peanuts (admittedly quite an esoteric note, but very dominant in my perception), shortbread cookies, roasted vegetables, teriyaki sauce, cashews, and chestnuts.
After the first infusion (I did not rinse the tea before brewing), the wet leaves were beautifully large and wavy. They gradually lost their white and black tinges and became more uniformly jade green from infusion to infusion.
The wet leaves gave off the same aromas as when they were dry, along with notes of sweet peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, and squash. The aromas of seaweed and teriyaki sauce overtook the corn-battered peanuts fairly quickly. The overall aromatic profile became more and more sencha-like on later infusions, though the finish remained strong and unique throughout the session.
The liquor was a pale shade of green and very clear.
The taste, especially on the first two infusions, was beautifully evocative of salt (though I would not call it “salty” per-se), the aforementioned peanuts, seaweed, sweet roasted vegetables, and buttery cookies. Zucchini was especially prominent towards the end. This tea has a sencha umami and gyokuro creaminess. A biting grassiness really shines in later infusions.
This tea has a mild astringency on its finish. Forgive my tackiness when I write that it sort of “dances on the tongue”, particularly the front. The tea is slightly and pleasantly drying.
The mild astringency of the tea quickly gives way to a lovely sweet, green finish which accompanied me out the door and was clearly present for a solid half hour after the final infusion.
Flavors: Carrot, Cashew, Cookie, Grass, Green, Kettle Corn, Peanut, Peas, Roasted Nuts, Salt, Seaweed, Smooth, Soy Sauce, Squash, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Umami, Vegetal, Zucchini
I drank this tea (2021 harvest) for a quick and dirty evening session without taking dedicated notes. I quickly regretted this after being just about blown away by it. I will definitely be revisiting this one in detail very soon, but seeing as this tea has no reviews as of the time I am writing this, I felt it necessary to sing its praises and offer some preliminary tasting notes. A green, grassy umami akin to sencha; above it, a layer of sweet vegetal-borderline-fruity notes; all topped with buttery overtones that remind me of shortbread (kind of like you get with some gyokuros). Held its own for at least five infusions. A really good one, especially for those fond of Japanese tea who are looking for something different, but not too different.
Flavors: Butter, Butternut Squash, Carrot, Cream, Garden Peas, Grass, Kettle Corn, Nutty, Peanut, Roasted Nuts, Smooth, Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Umami, Vegetables
A fairly complex and rather enjoyable Darjeeling, even a year after picking. I picked up a pretty wide variety of flavors and aromas brewing gongfu style (started at 85C and worked my way up to 95C for the sixth and final infusion).
Visibly, the dry leaves are appealing, mostly green and yellow, with some brown leaves. The tea contains a notably high proportion of beautiful off-white hairy buds. It was clearly picked, processed and shipped carefully – very few broken leaves.
Smelling the dry leaves, I picked up notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, molasses, pears, cardamom pods, and maybe a bit of mint and wood.
Looking at the wet leaves, they were more uniform, predominantly yellow-green on early infusions, progressing to yellower tones on later infusions. Though the leaves are rather large and loose to begin with, they expand quite markedly as infusions progress.
Picking apart the aroma of the wet leaves was challenging due to its varied constituents and evolution through the session. A strong hoppy freshness was clearly present throughout. Particularly on the first three infusions, the leaves reminded me of Lebkuchen (that sort of gingerbread cake you can find at European Christmas markets): a heady spice blend (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom pods), dark brown sugar, and light citrus (Bergamot and lemon zest). Also, faint notes of white grapes and light wood and hay were present through all of the infusions. From infusion #3 on, a hint of candied/roasted nuts grew more prominent in the aroma.
The liquor is a very clear yellowish-green, and was even somewhat white on the first infusion (perhaps due to my having brewed it at 85C). Like many first flush Darjeelings, the liquor of this tea is more reminiscent in appearance of a white or green tea than a black tea.
The tea is light in body but very smooth and rather thick. It is all but completely free of astringency, even on long 95C infusions, barring a light and enjoyable catch at the back of the throat after swallowing.
The taste of the tea is dominated by lovely sweetness at the front of the mouth, though the citrus element certainly contributes to the taste (especially on the sides of the tongue), as do the various spices noted in the smell of the leaves. The woodier notes and hops become more noticeable as infusions progress.
The finish is relatively long, and is sweet and mildly woody/haylike (especially with later infusions).
After finishing the tea, the cup is left smelling of brown sugar and molasses; slightly gingerbread-y.
All in all, another great offering from What-Cha, and amazing value for money.
Flavors: Bergamot, Brown Sugar, Cake, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Green Wood, Hay, Hops, Lemon Zest, Molasses, Nutmeg, Pear, Roasted Nuts, Vanilla
A thoroughly enjoyable black tea from What-Cha.
Brewed gong-fu style. Started at 90C as recommended, but cranked the temperature up to 95C from second infusion on. Got seven solid infusions out of this tea (brewed for 2 min. on infusion #7).
Smelling the dry leaves, I picked up sweet, rich aromas of berries and honey.
The dry leaves are fairly consistent in their large size and are predominantly brownish-grey, though definitely having a noticeable purple tinge.
After a quick rinse, the berry scents are greatly accentuated, and blueberry stands out, alongside notes of polished/lacquered wood, cherries, and cocoa, as well as a faint roasted aroma.
After the first infusion (30s), the leaves became far more brown than purple. The berry aroma from the leaves came even further out into the forefront.
The liquor from the first brew was amber to golden brown. The liquor grew more golden as infusions progressed.
The tea is medium-bodied and very low in astringency, and is characterized by a very enjoyable sourness on the sides of the tongue that develops nicely from infusion to infusion.
The taste, like the aromas from the leaves, is dominated by berries and cherries with a muted honey sweetness. Grapes dominate more and more from the fourth infusion on.
The finish is relatively light but pleasant and quite long, sweet and reminiscent of berries and grape jelly or candy.
All in all, this tea certainly meets one’s expectations of a wild purple tea – it conjures up images of a leisurely forest foraging trip.
Flavors: Berries, Black Currant, Blackberry, Blueberry, Cherry, Cocoa, Dark Wood, Fruity, Grape Skin, Grapes, Honey, Jam, Raspberry, Wood